Your essential weekly guide to the latest on FOIA, transparency and accountability battles, threats and wins. Powered by the reporters at MuckRock.

FOIA and the FBI: What’s in your file?
Undated image of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover sitting at a desk with a pen. Courtesy of the FBI.

MuckRock users have filed more requests with the FBI than any other agency, unearthing a trove of important and fascinating stories — as well as the occasional travel guide. But one of the great things about public records is that (almost) everyone is entitled to them. To help you in your potential transparency journey, we wanted to round up a few of our favorite tips and tricks for requesting from the FBI, plus point you to some fascinating files you can dig into without having to wait for an (often lengthy) response.

We’ve found the best way to jump into the world of FOIA is by investigating requests that have worked before, and filing with the FBI is no different. Fortunately, the MuckRock community has shared over 1,500 successful requests you can browse through and search based on keyword, timing and size of the release. If you’re looking for a little more advice or inspiration, check out our archival interview with Ryan Shapiro, now executive director and co-founder of transparency non-profit Property of the People, who shares his journey into FOIA’ing the FBI.

Want to see what the FBI has on you? MuckRock doesn’t help file privacy act requests (requests about information the agency has on you), but the good news is filing directly with the FBI is straightforward. Read our guide on requesting your own files here. And while you wait for a response, why not read up on some of the other amazing stories that have emerged from the FBI’s archives over the years?

Check out MuckRock's FBI files
The update 

▶ Election skeptics attack with FOIA: Americans who believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen have filed thousands of FOIA requests for records on voting machines and election officials, Bloomberg's Margi Murphy and Jack Gillum reported. The requests — which have gone to all counties in the U.S. and originate from an engineer in Florida — are placing a significant burden on local election officials as they prepare for the upcoming midterms.

FOIA tips from Jason Leopold: Investigative reporter and FOIA litigator Jason Leopold recently gave a talk at the University of Florida's Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, sharing experiences and insights from his career. "Records are extremely valuable even if they are dated," Leopold said. A recording of the event is available on the Center's website, as is a summary of Leopold's talk.

FOIA finds  & top docs 

For The Record was written by Betsy Ladyzhets and edited by André Natta.

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